How to embrace change for business success

Once upon a time, business models only needed to be redone every now and then. Fast-forward to 2020, and change is a constant. The ability to transform is now a vital part of organizational DNA. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the task of mobilizing around change, and doing so quickly and successfully, is not impossible.

According to Elspeth Murray, Associate Dean, MBA & Masters Programs and CIBC Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship at Smith School of Business, it’s time to stop talking about ‘managing change’ and start talking about ‘embracing change’. In this webinar, Elspeth takes a refreshing look at how to embrace change and make it work within your organization. Outlined below are a few key lessons we learned:

Big change can be done, and it can be done quickly and successfully.

For an individual or organization to succeed in a changing environment, the following are key areas to strive for:

  • Resourcefulness – digging around and figuring out how to get the job done.
  • Adaptability – when plan A doesn’t work out, be okay with moving right into plan B.
  • Optimism – the glass is always half full, rather than the glass is half empty. You have to be optimistic in the change game.
  • Confidence – associated with the growth mindset (more on this below!)
  • Adventurousness – take risks and enjoy the thrill of ‘winning the game’.
  • Tolerance for Ambiguity – not knowing the direct path but making assumptions and planning accordingly, while adapting to change.
  • Passion & Drive – loving the change game. This is the fuel that brings alive everything else.
Think about embracing change versus managing it (yes, there’s a difference!) 

The one element of those who embrace change is CONFIDENCE. This confidence will drive a shift in mindset: abandoning a fixed mindset (only believing you know what you know) and adopting a growth mindset (associated with believing that people can learn anything).

To hear how one leader’s story of navigating change has led to success, join us for our Women of Influence Virtual Spotlight on October 29th with the CEO of Mastermind Toys, Sarah Jordan.

About Elspeth Murray

Elspeth Murray is the Associate Dean, MBA and Masters Programs and a professor of Strategy and New Ventures at Smith School of Business. She holds the CIBC Fellowship in Entrepreneurship, and founded Smith's Centre for Business Venturing. Prior to joining Smith, she worked in industry for seven years for several firms including IBM and Canadian Tire. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, Fast Forward: Organizational Change in 100 Days (Oxford University Press). Her current research is focused on best practices in leading and managing change to create an analytics culture.

Meet Sylvia Parris Drummond, CEO of Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute and 2020 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Social Change Recipient.

Sylvia Parris Drummond

Sylvia Parris Drummond is a lifelong community and public sector leader whose work is rooted in Africentric principles and guided by collaboration and active engagement. As the CEO of Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute, she is the Recipient in the Social Change category of the 2020 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. 

My first job ever was… running a summer program for young children. In reflection it was my first foray into learning from relationships and incorporating fun for all. 

I chose my career path because… it chose me. When I entered university, I knew what I did not want to do; but I was also not sure what I wanted. I followed my instincts and my strengths.  

When starting out, I wish I knew… that we all have fragile parts. When I understood that better, I could be easier on myself and be less judgmental.

The part of my role that I love the most is… learning by doing and being brave for the cause.  

The biggest challenge of running a not-for-profit is… holding tight to purpose in the face of structural pressures and expectations. The pressure and out-of-sync expectations often show up during financial negotiations and the need for meeting the needs and empowering the voices of those we serve.

If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… tons of the intimate pieces of me. I save those for my loved ones.

My best advice from a mentor was… grow confidence you do that by continuously learning, being open to criticism, being reflective, and taking risks. 

My advice for anyone who wants to build a not-for-profit is… get clear in your mind the vision and purpose. Once you have that it is just a matter of staying the course. It most likely won’t be a straight path but with purpose in sight, you will get there. 

One thing for-profit businesses can learn from the not-for-profit world is… that they can start with learning that social change and justice can fit into a for-profit business model too.

I stay inspired by… prayer, affirmations, self-talks, and spending time with family and friends.

Success to me means… being nourished by what I am doing personally and professionally.